News / Africa

Sudan Military May be Poised for Major Offensive

Satellite image of helicopters at the Sudanese airbase at Kidugli.
Satellite image of helicopters at the Sudanese airbase at Kidugli.
Joe DeCapua

Analysts say new satellite images of Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State indicate a major government military offensive is about to begin against the Nuba people.  The images were released Wednesday by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP).

Government forces have been fighting the rebel SPLA-North Sector in Southern Kordofan, causing thousands of civilians to flee to South Sudan.

“What we’re seeing is the grounds for issuing a Human Security Alert, which we issued today,” said Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which analyzed the images.“Satellite imagery collected by DigitalGlobe has captured evidence of road construction and the presence of heavy armor units in position to the Kauda Valley. The Kauda Valley is where at least 200,000 civilians of the Nuba people are currently taking refuge,” he said.

No escape?

Images also indicate the route that’s been used by thousands of civilians to cross into South Sudan appears to be under the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Raymond said the route “appears to be blocked, limiting the movement of civilians who may still be trying to flee the Kauda Valley and the Nuba mountains.”

There are also images of an airbase where improvements are being made.

“We see the construction of an airstrip at Talodi, which is approximately 30 miles or 50 kilometers from Kauda Valley. Why this is important is that the runway there is being lengthened to approximately 1800 meters. It takes 1500 to 1550 meters to land an Antonov. An Antonov is the plane which has been used to drop bombs and explosive ordinance of many types. With this new strip, they will be able to conduct high tempo air operations into the Kauda Valley, combined with the infrastructure improvements needed to deploy heavy armor in coordination with that air support,” said Raymond.

Witnesses say it was an Antonov plane that dropped bombs Monday on a refugee center just across the border from Southern Kordofan in South Sudan. Images also show helicopter gunships at the Kadugli airbase

The Satellite Sentinel Project issued a Human Security Alert last year for the disputed oil rich region of Abyei two months before it was attacked by Sudanese forces. “We saw almost an identical force pattern and infrastructure pattern prior to the invasion of Abyei region,” said Raymond.

Final assault

Analysts believe the military offensive could begin soon. “At this point, there’s approximately 8 to 9 weeks before the start of the rainy season. And it makes sense based on the very clear statements of indicted war criminal Governor Ahmed Haroun and President Bashir that they intend to take the Kauda Valley, if possible, likely before the rainy season begins again,” he said.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said the images indicate “preparation for a final assault against the Nuba people.” It said when the fighting began last June in Southern Kordofan there were more than one million Nuba people in the state. It estimates there are now between 200,000 and 400,000.

“During that time you have had more than half of the Nuba population killed, displaced internally or displaced into South Sudan,” he said, adding, “It is crucial to note that this is occurring with the backdrop of what we call a green famine. The Famine Early Warning System, the United Nations and the U.S. government have made it very clear that the food security situation in the Nuba Mountains and the Kauda Valley is precarious.”

The SSP said reports from the ground say the price of sorghum has skyrocketed.

Raymond said, “People are eating reserve foods and in some cases eating bark and leaves. If there is not immediate humanitarian assistance into this restricted area, it is a very real possibility that a famine could occur by some estimates as early as March. And we’re talking 200,000 civilians at least cut off from escape, cut off from humanitarian aid and cut off from protection.”

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid